Theme-centered Interaction According to Ruth Cohn


Recognising and promoting the balance of the “I-we-it-factors” in the environment.



Teenagers and young adults


1 hour


Each group is determined by four elements/factors:

  • I (individual): the single person with his biography and demands.
  • We (group): with goals and dynamics
  • It (topic): Task, Theme
  • Globe (environment): conducive and obstructive framework

The recognition and promotion of the balance of the “I-we-it-factors” in the environment is the basis of the TCI group work. The TCI group leader’s task is to pay attention to the “dynamic balance” of the four factors. The balance is dynamic because it changes constantly and never remains constant in the group process.


I – deficit:

  • IT (topic) and WE (group) are in the foreground
  • An individual pays more attention to the goal and interests of the group than to himself
  • Group neglects the interests of individual members

I- We- Deficit:

  • ES (subject) is in the foreground
  • Individual interests and group realization are neglected
  • There is no group feeling

We- Deficit:

  • Group feeling and cooperation are neglected
  • Focus on I and IT
  • Group dynamics are not created

It- Deficit:

  • ES (topic) moves into the background
  • Group members are mainly concerned with themselves and the processes within the group.
  • No identification with the subject


“Be your chairperson.”

  • take personal responsibility
  • Deciding on needs
  • Making use of decision-making opportunities
  • Responsibility for my actions lies with me, not with the group management

“Interference takes precedence.”

  • Acknowledge obstacles, distractions and impairments on the way to the goal as a reality
  • Malfunctions can occur anywhere and at any time
  • Disturbances do not ask for permission
  • Disorders (fear, pain, joy …) demand the energy & attention of the participant.
  • Displacing faults can lead to other defects.

Possible sources of disturbance are internal processes of a physical, emotional and rational nature, as well as external conditions of material, ecological, social and political nature.

If disturbances are ignored or denied, they play themselves into the foreground and hinder learning, work and growth. It is, therefore, essential to take them seriously and work on them until the person or group can act and work again.

Principles of TCI (axioms):

  1. Autonomy. The human being is a psycho-biological unit. He is also part of the universe. He is, therefore, equally autonomous (self-dependent) and interdependent (dependent). The individual’s autonomy is more significant the more he is aware of his interdependence with everything.
  2. Appreciation. Respect is due to all living things and their becoming and passing away. Care for growth requires evaluative decisions. The human being is valuable; the inhuman is value-threatening.
  3. Expanding boundaries. The free decision happens within conditional inner and outer limits. Extension of these boundaries is possible.


Ruth Cohn
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